Volunteering Reviews

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Hostess on a shuttle bus between two NT properties

Organisation: National Trust
Date: 21 January 2011

Activity:
Meet and greet the visitors, give a welcome and safety briefing on the mini bus, answer any queries, follow up with visitors on their experience on the return journey; liaise with regular NT staff at the properties
Comments:
It was great being part of a team and feeling valued, that my contribution really mattered to the visitors themselves and to the National Trust. I enjoyed meeting a wide variety of visitors, all ages, all nationalities.
Help and advice
Made a difference
Would do again

Computer support/training

Organisation: Paxton Green TimeBank
Date: 21 January 2011

Activity:
Answered enquires about computing/internet through email.

Taught beginners how to write their own first HTML web page.

Taught people how to do simple origami paper folding.

Joined the creation of a chess club for beginners to learn/or, for more experience players to come and compete.

Comments:
I replied through email to enquiries from people who were computing/internet beginners; and, who for some reason had gotten themselves stuck?! If I didn't know all of the answers myself; then, I would locate and redirect their attention towards further internet resources; which might be able to help answer their questions both effectively, and, in a lot more depth.

I went to visit the TimeBank in person at Kingswood House Library; to go and give beginner lessons there on how to do such things as learn to write a first web page using HTML/CSS hand coding using a mixture of different software applications including both WIndows Notepad word processor/and, also, Internet Explorer web browser.

I taught people how to do origami; as I'm a registered member of BOS/British Origami Society. Teaching them how to create such 'simple' folds as paper hat/air plane/various different boxes/book marks/paper envelope/toys: paper gun/banger/bird/crane/-etc.

I joined setting up a regular chess club that meets on Friday's; and, we play chess with beginners who are interested in learning how to play the game/or else, who were far more experienced players only interested in competing against one another, instead.

As somebody who is unemployed, shy/and, extremely private...tending largely to keep myself all strictly to myself by constantly staying in at home; having gone and joined in with my local TimeBank, has taught me how to meet, greet, and deal with people who are total strangers; as well as, it helps to take me out of my very closed in shell; thus, I feel I've gained an awful lot through having become much more outgoing, and, too, self-confident.

Certainly, I would very highly recommend TimeBanking to absolutely anyone and everyone; try it, it's FREE; and, if you don't like it; then, simply, quit! But, I think, you will find that, eventually, it becomes rather highly ADDICTIVE...LOL...because everyone is so warm, friendly, and, helpful towards one another; therefore, you won't ever wish to stop going there! ;-)
Help and advice
Made a difference
Would do again

Allies project

Organisation: CSV Community Service Volunteers
Date: 21 January 2011

Activity:
I volunteer as an ally for a young person in care, taking them out once a fortnight to do activities such as bowling, cinema, ice skating etc.
Comments:
I cannot recommend CSV as an organisation highly enough. Being an ally and 'mentor' to a young person in foster care can often be challenging, but they are there to support you all the way.

The training is relevant and interactive, and there are regular support meetings and social gatherings where you can meet other volunteers and get tips, or air your frustrations if need be! You are also assigned a project leader who you can phone whenever you need to, which has been very helpful to me.

I really feel like I make a difference volunteering with this charity. They are always friendly and helpful and make sure you know you're appreciated. Keep up the good work!
Help and advice
Made a difference
Would do again

Helpline volunteer

Organisation: Get Connected
Date: 21 January 2011

Activity:
I answer calls and emails from children and young people, and chat to them over the internet on the webchat service.
Comments:
I would highly recommend volunteering with Get Connected. The charity is incredibly well run and really looks after the volunteers. I feel supported and listened to, and am never left to deal with anything on my own if it gets difficult. Talking to children and young people is rewarding and lovely, and even when you have a tough or sad conversatioon, you come away knowing that you did a good thing by giving them someone to talk to.

The committment is only 4 hours a week and the helpline team are flexible, if you need to cancel or change a shift, they're cool about it.

The initial training is quite a big committment but it was well worth it if you can stick it out.

There is room for progression with shift leader roles available, I've been there almost a year and am being considered for that role already.
Help and advice
Made a difference
Would do again

Helping children to read

Organisation: Volunteer Reading Help London South East
Date: 21 January 2011

Activity:
Spend 3 hours a week (on two separate days) giving one-to-one reading assistance to three children. I work with the same three children all year.
Comments:
I cannot think of any activity that has been more rewarding than my work with Volunteer Reading Help. You spend 90 minutes twice a week working individually with three children at your local school, usually reluctant readers, to help them become more confident in their reading and inspire in them a love of books. To see them grow in confidence and achieve higher levels of reading over the year is a joy. You know that you have made a difference in their lives - sometimes a really big difference. And the children themselves teach you so much in return - with their imagination and enthusiasm. VRH is an incredibly well run organisation and they make everything easy for the volunteer. Make a difference to a child's lifelong chances. Volunteer with VRH.
Help and advice
Made a difference
Would do again

Trustee

Organisation: Age UK Barnet
Date: 21 January 2011

Activity:
I have been a trustee of Age UK Barnet for a number of years now. Trustees run charities. They are responsible for the accounts, business planning, risk management and strategy.

Most trustees are retired business people, but, to be honest, I cannot think of a better way to learn about how to run a company. We deal with negotiating contracts, budgetting, employment issues, mergers, acquisitions and collaborative working, campaigning, marketing and writing tenders and grant applications.

We have board meetings once a month, but I like to pop in much more often, walking the floor like any other manager would. Now that I am the Chair I also go to meetings, for example to negotiate contracts or partnerships, lobby local politicians and attend some training and network meetings.
Comments:
Being a trustee is something I would recommend to anyone who is looking to strengthen their CV or who wants to learn more about running a business. As a trustee you run the charity, so the buck stops with you, but you also get to set strategy. But I have learned so much about business planning, budgeting, mergers and acquisitions, marketing, risk management, employment law and people management, campaigning, negotiating, writing tenders and pitching for grants.

Our meetings are once a month, but I like to walk the floor more often than that. I also have to go to other meetings, for example with local politicians or statutory funders.

My fellow trustees are much more experienced than I am, but have been amazingly generous with their time and experience in teaching me.

Being a trustee is something that people think of doing once they retire, especially if they have run their own business. But I think, if running a business is something you have ambitions to do, then being a trustee is a great way to learn and the hands on experience will stand you in good stead when you need to prove your ability to the bank or an investor.
Help and advice
Made a difference
Would do again

Kitchen Assistant

Organisation: Food Chain
Date: 21 January 2011

Activity:
Kitchen Assistant
Comments:
I've been volunteering as a Kitchen Assistant with the Food Chain for about two years. This is a great volunteering opportunity if you enjoy cooking and working in a team. It is also ideal if you have a busy job as the commitment is not too great (one Sunday morning a month). You work in a team of 8 supported by a 'head cook' and prepare a variety of dishes for lunch and evening meals that get delivered to around 70 people with HIV and their families. It's a busy but also sociable time and you have to be prepared to do quite a lot of washing and cleaning as well as cooking but overall, it's great fun and other volunteers and cooks are also great to work with. The whole scheme is also run very efficiently so you get great support (e.g. health and safety training as well as other training opportunities).
Help and advice
Made a difference
Would do again

LEA Governor at Spaldwick School

Organisation: Cambridgeshire County Council
Date: 21 January 2011

Activity:
I became a governor at the village school having just moved here.
Comments:
There is a lot of work involved in being a school governor but it is very rewarding. In my role as Training Coordinator, Mentor and member of several committees, I have found that much of the work can be done from home and that actual meetings take up far less time than one might think. The work of school governors is much appreciated and I enjoy the contact with my local school.
Help and advice
Made a difference
Would do again

Dog walking

Organisation: Cinnamon Trust
Date: 21 January 2011

Activity:
Walked a dog for someone who is not well enough to walk him propertly herself
Comments:
The people at the Cinnamon Trust office are wonderful and do a great job. Walking someone's dog gives me fresh air and exercise.
Help and advice
Made a difference
Would do again

Navigator

Organisation: Food Chain
Date: 13 January 2011

Activity:
Paired up with a driver and given a specific route in the West London area (our base was in Hammersmith) I delivered meals to people living with or affected by HIV.
Comments:
This is a great volunteer role! It's not a huge commitment - you commit to helping out at least one Sunday a month. As a navigator you arrive at the kitchen around 11.15, get briefed on the meals and the route you're taking, and then you head off with your driver with the hot boxes/cool boxes in the boot. You're given a detailed plan of where you're going and who you're delivering meals to along with special instructions (for example, some people like their meals disguised in supermarket shopping bags, while others take a long time to get to the front door so you have to make sure you wait - seemingly small but actually rather crucial details that make the whole thing go more smoothly). Often the food you are delivering is the only decent meal the person has had all week, so you know you're making a difference - especially when they come to the door looking really relieved/happy to see you. Other times you're not just feeding the person with HIV, you're feeding their whole family that day too, which is brilliant. You might have ten deliveries and then it's back to the kitchen in Hammersmith - you're usually done by around 3 depending on the traffic. So - just a few hours of your Sunday but you've done something really important. I heartily recommend both the charity and volunteering for it.
Help and advice
Made a difference
Would do again